Brook Andrew | Australia NSW b.1970 | Wiradjuri people | The Island V 2008 | Mixed media on Belgian linen, ed. 1/3 | 250 x 300 x 5cm | Purchased 2009 with funds derived from the Bequest of Grace Davies and Nell Davies through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
Australia NSW b.1970
The Island V 2008
Mixed media on Belgian linen, ed. 1/3
250 x 300 x 5cm
Purchased 2009 with funds derived from the Bequest of Grace Davies and Nell Davies through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
The Island V 2008
Brook Andrew’s The Island V is based on an image from a remarkable nineteenth century album, Australien in 142 Photographischen Abbildungen, made in 1862 by Prussian zoologist and naturalist Wilhelm Blandowski (1822–78). Only two copies of the album are known to exist today; one in the Staatsbibliothek, Berlin, and the other in the Haddon Library, Cambridge.
Blandowski’s travels and studies in Australia comprise one of the key sources of information on early post-settlement Victoria. The following notes are an English translation of the text from Australien in 142 Photographischen Abbildungen that describes the scene depicted in the work:
Plate 67: If the kangaroo is publicly known as harmless, this is a misconception. Many, even very strong dogs die during the kangaroo hunt. Others have shattered shoulders and do not care to go near a kangaroo again, least of all near the old male kangaroo named ‘Boomerang’, who knows how to keep a whole pack of dogs at bay. Humans have to watch out for him as well, for it has happened on occasion that the kangaroo has grabbed a person, carried him to the nearest water and held him under the surface until he believes the person has drowned.
This exaggerated note illustrates the early European notions of Australia being a savage and dangerous, yet romantic and alluring, place. Andrew plays on these emotions further with the incorporation of blood-red pigment — at once signifying lust, romance, anger, aggression and danger — over a silver foil. An Aboriginal man accompanies the wild composition, standing with club raised in an ambiguous gesture, perhaps forming part of the kangaroo hunting party or also warding the ‘invader’ audience away from his lands, thus implicating him and all Aboriginal people in these European fantasies.